MTN Logo (Photo Credit: Voice of the Cape)
MTN Logo (Photo Credit: Voice of the Cape)

Turkcell’s “opportunistic” claim against MTN should be thrown out because it is an abuse of the process of the court, baseless and without merit, Africa, and the Middle East largest mobile phone operator, said on Tuesday.

Turkcell is seeking $4.2 billion (R58.9 billion) – which will cover profits and interest Turkcell said it would have made had it operated the Irancell licence –  from MTN. This is a fifth attempt by Turkcell.

But MTN – which acquired a 49% interest in Irancell Communication Services Company (“Irancell”), which was awarded the second GSM License in Iran in November 2005 – branded the damages claims by Turkcell as unjust to burden the mobile phone operator with a fifth round of litigation of substantially the same matters.

“We will not be bullied, harassed and oppressed in this matter and have every expectation that we will prevail,” MTN said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Turkcell was the author of its own misfortune in failing to obtain the licence in Iran.”

When the allegations made by Turkcell were first raised, MTN appointed an Independent Special Committee under the Chairmanship of the eminent international jurist, Lord Leonard Hoffmann, to investigate the allegations.

Lord Hoffmann embarked upon a thorough and exhaustive analysis of the investigations.

He found that Turkcell’s allegations, which rested entirely upon the evidence of one Mr Christian Kilowan, were all ‘a fabric of lies, distortions and inventions’; and that Mr Kilowan was shown to be ‘a fantasist and a conspiracy theorist’.

MTN added that Lord Hoffmann was also very clear in finding that he was entirely satisfied that there was no conspiracy between MTN and Iranian officials to remove Turkcell from the licence process in Iran.

“That there were no promises made to procure the South African government to supply defence equipment to Iran or to support Iran’s nuclear policy, nor that MTN had advanced sham loans to its Iranian partners, nor indeed that any promises of payment to Iranian or South African officials were made or authorised by Mr Nhleko or Ms Charnley,” said MTN.

In the period since Lord Hoffmann made his Report, we have found nothing that would change his findings.

Earlier this year, Dr Mahmoud Vaezi, the Minister in Iran’s Ministry of Information and Communication Technology, also rejected Turkcell’s allegations in an exclusive interview with Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency.

Minister Vaezi was reported to have said that all relevant documents have been looked at, with nothing to establish Turkcell’s claims.

The case in South Africa is the fifth time that Turkcell has attempted to pursue legal proceedings in respect of substantially the same issues.

“Turkcell continues to pursue its claims only to harass and oppress MTN.  We consider that it is most unjust to burden MTN with the fifth round of litigation of substantially the same matters,” said MTN.

Turkcell’s four previous attempts, including proceedings before reputable international arbitration panels, failed.

“The ongoing attempt to re-litigate complaints that Turkcell have repeatedly litigated without success are contrary to the interests of justice. We have every confidence that this fifth ‘bite at the cherry’ will also fail. The claim smacks of a desperate last measure to try and extract benefits to which it is not entitled,” said MTN.

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